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Bold Proclaimers of Gospel Truth B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2024 4:00 am

Bold Proclaimers of Gospel Truth B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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April 25, 2024 4:00 am

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So Paul knew that if he was going to be faithful to the end and he was going to endure, he knew that if he was going to be faithful to shine the light into the darkness, there had to be some things that anchored him down, some certainties. He was certain regarding the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. He was certain that ministry was a mercy.

He was certain that he needed to have a pure heart. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In his book, Seven Ways to Fix the World, Christopher Barnett suggests that mankind needs to adopt a low energy lifestyle and listen to a diversity of opinions and put more women in authority. And while some of his ideas in the book might be helpful, none of them would truly fix what's wrong in the world. But what would?

If you could only do one thing to fix humanity's greatest problems, what would it be? John MacArthur tackles that question today as he continues his series called The World versus the Kingdom of God. And with that, here is John. I want to take you to a passage that has been a treasure to me for many, many years. It's one of those defining portions of Scripture. As I look at my life and my ministry and your life and your ministry in the kingdom of light, that passage is 2 Corinthians chapter 4, 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Now, we've been looking at the idea of the fact that there is revealed in Scripture that the world is made up of two kingdoms. There's the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. And we looked at 2 Corinthians chapter 6, which says light and darkness are incompatible, as incompatible as lawlessness and righteousness, as Satan and Christ, as unbelievers and believers. And so we said that the Word of God calls on us to be separate, touch not the unclean thing, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The kingdom of light is not ever helped or advanced by an alliance in a common cause with the kingdom of darkness. Christ does not need Satan to accomplish His purposes, and that breaching that reality is what causes all the compromise that infects and has always infected the church.

So there are two kingdoms. Now our calling and our duty as the children of light, as Paul calls us, is to make sure that we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. That's our responsibility. We don't make alliances, common cause with the darkness, but we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. We are lights in the world. We have the same calling the apostle Paul had, to shine the gospel light into the darkness. Paul accepted this calling, and in Romans chapter 1, he says this, chapter 1, verse 14, I am under obligation to the Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and to the foolish.

This is an obligation. So for my part, I am also eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith. I am not ashamed of the gospel.

It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. Paul was not ashamed to boldly shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 9, 16, he says, Woe is me if I preach not the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 1, 23, he says, we preach Christ crucified.

In chapter 2 of that same book and verse 2, we preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified. And I want to say immediately, the boldness of Paul and the fact that he was not ashamed of the gospel, put him in a precarious position. From the very beginning of his ministry, how did he endure? Well, at the end of chapter 3, it says that the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord the Spirit. The answer is the Holy Spirit was consistently sanctifying him and making him more like Christ, and there was no lack of boldness in the preaching of Christ, was there? As the Holy Spirit sanctified him, he became more like his Savior, and he demonstrated the attributes of the Lord Jesus Himself, and one of them was certainly preaching the truth boldly. But as you come into chapter 4, he defines for us some convictions. How did this apostle maintain such endurance when so many people bail out at some point? So how do you endure? You have to have some inviolable commitments, unchangeable beliefs.

You can't be adjusted from them, and Paul had those. He was able to face the hostile darkness, take whatever they threw back at him for the following reasons. Number one, he was certain of the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. In other words, he was certain of his message. He was certain of the urgency of his message, that it was the truth, that it was superior to the old covenant, and that it was the only hope for sinners.

So what drives us in ministry to be faithful and not defect, not give up, not become ashamed because we can't take the hostility and the rejection? What drives us is the certainty that this is the sinner's only hope. This is the sinner's only escape. They're all around us going to hell. Do you care enough to shine the light into their darkness? Do you understand they have no hope without it? Paul understood that, and it kept him bold until he was martyred.

There's a second characteristic, second certainty, a second strong conviction. That's also in verse 1. It says, therefore, since we have received this, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy. And again, I have to stop. He understood that ministry is a mercy.

This is the second certainty. Ministry is a mercy. In other words, he never lost the wonder over the fact that he was doing something he didn't deserve to do. He was not worthy to carry this message, not at all.

It was always a stunning shock to him. So Paul is saying, God is merciful, even allowing me to minister, even allowing me to preach this glorious gospel, and God is merciful to surround me with the people that I need. None of us deserve it.

No one deserves such a privilege. No one deserves, as he says in chapter 5, verse 20, to be an ambassador for God, representing the heavenly King and the kingdom of light. Such a ministry always is a mercy, always a mercy. There was a third certainty.

He was certain about the need for a pure heart. We've renounced the things hidden because of shame. We've renounced the things hidden because of shame. What does shame mean here? Anything disgraceful, anything dishonorable, anything that produces shame?

Paul says, I've renounced secret shame. We wish sometimes that we knew when we hear people speak or preach, or we know some Christian who is seemingly representing the Lord Jesus Christ, but something seems wrong there. And we wish we knew what really was going on inside that individual. Sometimes we find out. Sometimes we don't. But we have a right to expect of those who minister the gospel that there is no secret life of shame. And when there is, it is devastating. It is devastating.

You've got to be dealing with your heart. Matthew 15, Jesus said, it's not what goes into you that defiles you, it's what comes out of you. So Paul knew that if he was going to be faithful to the end and he was going to endure, he knew that if he was going to be faithful to shine the light into the darkness, there had to be some things that anchored him down, some certainties. He was certain regarding the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. He was certain that ministry was a mercy. He was certain that he needed to have a pure heart.

Here's a fourth and very important conviction. He was certain of the duty to preach accurately the Word of God. Look at verse 2 again. He was certain of the duty to preach accurately the Word of God, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God. Conviction about handling the Word of God accurately.

This opens up, for me, Pandora's box. Nothing is more disappointing to me than somebody misinterpreting Scripture and speaking as if it's the truth when it's a misrepresentation. That's why Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2.15, be diligent to be a workman, needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. You've got to get it right.

You've got to get it right. You get it right, and all Scripture is profitable, he says to Timothy, and then you preach it. So first you have to interpret it correctly, and then you have to understand that every single thing it says is profitable, and then you preach it. Conviction of handling the Word of God accurately. And he uses the word craftiness, not walking in craft, panorgia, literally if you take the word apart, it's the word for all and the word for energy, all work.

What does all work mean? That there are people who will do anything to accomplish their ends. They'll be shrewd with the Scripture. They'll be unscrupulous with the Scripture. They'll twist and pervert it.

They'll deceive people with it. A synonym for this word is kakorgia, which is an evildoer or a criminal. I don't think there's much difference between a criminal and someone who twists the Scripture. That is a crime against God.

New Testament uses panorgia, craftiness, always in a negative sense. It is being willing to do anything to gain your end, anything with the Scripture. And he describes what he means, adulterating the Word of God, adulterating it, using it in an illegitimate way. Adultery is a sin. It's a violation of a covenant. It's having sexual relations outside your marriage covenant that is violating that covenant.

And you have a covenant with the Word of God to teach it faithfully, and if you do not, you have violated that covenant. Adulterating doulan tests only here in the New Testament. It's a snare. It's a trap.

It's a fishhook. It's something deceptive to hook people using the Word of God as a way to deceive them. Look over at chapter 2, verse 17. It's very much like peddling the Word of God, peddling the Word of God, kapalas.

That's a con man, that's a crook. The false teachers always twist, always pervert the Word of God in a deceptive way, corrupting it, diluting it, twisting it to make their lies look scriptural, to make the people who follow them think they speak for God. Over in 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul defends himself again and says, "'Our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our heart.

We never came with flattering speeches, you know, nor with a pretext for greed. God is witness.'" We don't use the Scripture. We teach it faithfully and accurately.

This leads to a really amazing point here. The apostle was truly faithful to the Scripture, and notice what this verse says it accomplished. But by the manifestation of truth, that was because he was faithful in interpreting the Scripture, he was manifesting the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. By the manifestation of the truth, that can't be overemphasized. The duty of every preacher, the duty of every witness is to proclaim the truth, to manifest the truth.

Accuracy of interpretation demands a clear, careful exposition of Scripture. So Paul says, not in craftiness, not adulterating the Word, but rather by the manifestation of the truth of God's revelation, what happens? Commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

This is a most unexpected promise. The faithful, accurate, clear exposition of God's Word will do exactly what we would want it to do. It will commend ourselves, meaning the message that we have brought, to every man's conscience in the sight of God. This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. This is the best possible truth for all Christians to hear. If you proclaim the truth, it will commend itself to the heart of the hearer.

No craftiness is necessary, no deceptiveness, no alteration, no adulteration. Just declare the truth, the truth of sin and condemnation, and forgiveness and justification through Christ. And you have this promise that it will commend us to every man's conscience in the sight of God. So certainties drove Paul that kept him faithful, certainty of the superiority of the new covenant. Ministry is a mercy of pure heart, and certainty about being accurate with the Word of God and expecting hostility. And then this fifth one, okay, verse 3, he is certain that salvation is the sovereign work of God.

Are you ready for that? He is certain that salvation is the sovereign work of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In his case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

He is certain about this, that if the gospel is veiled, if it's covered over, if it's not received, it is veiled to those who are in a category, the perishing, and also the blinded by Satan. The God of this world has blinded their minds. We do not have the power to overcome the sinner's resistance. There's no amount of cleverness, there's no amount of manipulation, there's no amount of oratory that can cause repentance and salvation.

We can't fight this battle with human weapons. Why is this true? Let's go back to verse 3 for a moment. Number one, they are the perishing. These people are the perishing.

Strong verb. Those are those devoted to destruction. That's a category of people.

Paul refers to that in 1 Corinthians 1, 2 Corinthians 2. They're the perishing. In other words, they're a category of people who can't respond.

They have no mechanism. They don't understand the things of God, they're foolishness to them. Secondly, they're blinded by Satan. So you have this category of people who are the perishing, as contrasted in 1 Corinthians 1, from those who are being saved. And then additionally, the God of this world has blinded their minds so they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.

The God of this world, the God of this age may be a better way to say it, is Satan. Satan has blinded them. Satan has deceived them. Chapter 10, Paul says they're fortified in ideologies of doom and death.

They need to be led captive out of those. John 8, they're of their father the devil who's a liar, and they believe his lies. They love darkness rather than light. They're under the wrath of God. Their minds are corrupted by their perishing status and the double blinding of Satan so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. They can't. They can't see it. So that's the level of consumer resistance that we have to attack. You say, well, what do we do in a situation like that?

You recognize this. We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. We preach Christ because we know this, God who said, light shall shine out of darkness is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. So this is Paul's certainty that salvation is a sovereign work of God. It is a sovereign work of God.

So what does Paul say in verse 5? We then do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. We just preach Christ. We preach Christ Jesus as Lord.

We're just slaves, doulos. Spiritual results don't come from us. No, we preach Christ.

That's sufficient. That's our calling. We preach Christ as the only hope for the sinner to escape judgment and hell. In John 7 18, Jesus said, he who speaks from himself seeks his own glory.

Just note that. He who speaks from himself. When you hear a preacher who's the hero of all his own stories, he's seeking his own glory.

He who is seeking the glory of the one who sent him, he is true and there's no unrighteousness in him. Listen for the preacher who gives all the glory to Christ. We preach Christ as Lord. Father, thank You for our time this morning.

The best of all possible experiences to be in Your presence, in the presence of Your people, worshiping You, hearing You speak through Your Word. May sinners repent right in this very service and beyond where this message is heard. May they turn from their sin. May they feel the fear, weight, dread, guilt of their sin and flee only to Christ who offers complete forgiveness. Our Lord, we love You. We desire to be faithful to serve You as Paul did to the end of our days. May we never lose heart, may we never defect, may we always be bold and unashamed, and may You be glorified in our lives, faithful to the very end. Preach Christ, the only hope of salvation.

That's how you can help the world the most. John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, drove that point home today on Grace to You and his current series titled The World vs. the Kingdom of God. John, you talked today about Paul's conviction to boldly proclaim the gospel. Frankly, we all need to cultivate that same conviction, conviction to tell people the truth, even when it's uncomfortable. In fact, especially when it's uncomfortable, standing firm on biblical truths like the reality of judgment for sin and on the remedy that Christ alone provides, that's not easy, but it is what God has set us apart to do. Conviction seems to be a missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians. People ask me, you have strong convictions, where do these come from?

And it's pretty clear. First of all, it starts with your trust in Scripture. That's where all your convictions are grounded and founded. If you have a weak understanding of Scripture or a weak commitment to its authority, you're going to lack conviction. Let me tell you how it works.

Now I use my own life as an illustration. I believe the Bible is true. I believe everything in the Bible is true. I believe it is the word of the living God. Because I believe that, it is all authoritative.

That is to say, it is true and it is binding. So that's where my convictions start, with total confidence in the Scripture. When I understand what the Bible says, that gives me sound doctrine. When I have sound doctrine, those are the things that become the structure of my life. In other words, what frames my whole life are the doctrines. They are the skeleton, the frame of my spiritual life.

They give form to my life. And because they come from an authoritative divine word, you move then from understanding Scripture to believing Scripture to being confident in Scripture to showing conviction. These are your convictions then.

They are the things that drive you. Conviction then becomes courage. There's really no courage to take stands unless there is conviction based upon an understanding of God's Word. I want to help you with that by letting you know again about our new book, Truth Triumphs. Produced to commemorate Grace Tew's 55th anniversary, Truth Triumphs provides an arsenal of biblical truth that will help you stand firm, have some convictions, demonstrate some courage. The book is made up of 14 sermons. Each sermon is a chapter. Chapters include Calling Rulers to Repentance, We Must Obey God Rather Than Men, How God Restrains Evil in the World, Such Were Some of You, Forgiveness in an Age of Rage, The Promise of Peace in a Worried World, and eight more. Truth Triumphs, it's hardcover, 290 pages available from Grace Tew, reasonably priced and shipping is free on all U.S. orders. Thanks John, and friend, to help ratchet up your trust in Scripture, to deepen your conviction about the truth of God's Word, order a copy of Truth Triumphs when you get in touch with us today. Call us here at 855-GRACE or order from our website, Again, Truth Triumphs is a brand new book.

The cost is $19, and shipping is free on U.S. orders. To order Truth Triumphs, call 855-GRACE during normal business hours. That's Monday through Friday, 730 to 4 o'clock Pacific Time.

Or you can shop online anytime at That's our website,, and while you're there, take advantage of the thousands of free resources available, including Grace Stream. It's a continuous loop of John MacArthur's sermons from Matthew chapter 1 through Revelation 22.

It takes a couple of months to get through all of them, one after the other. And then the sermons repeat. So whether you have just a few minutes to listen or a couple of hours, jump into Grace Stream today and anytime for verse-by-verse encouragement from the New Testament. You'll find Grace Stream at Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for joining us today, and be back tomorrow when John helps you see how the light of God's Word cuts through even the deepest darkness. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-25 05:33:30 / 2024-04-25 05:43:04 / 10

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